Just two minutes and 58 seconds into Saturday’s win over San Diego State, the most important play of the game had already happened. That play was not a touchdown or an amazing catch but rather an injury, one that sent Ohio State’s Heisman-hopeful junior quarterback Braxton Miller to the Ohio Stadium turf with an MCL sprain.
What happened next was different from anything I have ever seen in all my years watching the Buckeyes.
Instead of gasps and worried looks, there seemed to be a calm around the section I was sitting in, known as “Block O” South. This tranquility was because we all saw redshirt-senior quarterback Kenny Guiton, colloquially known as “Kenny G,” trotting on the field to replace Miller.
Normally with a backup quarterback, there is doubt that he can do anything remotely like the starter. But for the 2013 Buckeyes, Guiton goes against all I have seen out of backup at OSU, and I think that fans feel as much comfort with Miller as they do with Guiton.
While Guiton does not have Miller’s arm strength or foot speed, he is just as capable of running OSU’s offense. I am not by any stretch of the imagination trying to diminish or downplay what Miller has done, or what he will do, but I will say for the first time in my life, I’m not worried.
Even San Diego State head coach Rocky Long said he agreed.
“(Guiton) is as good of a backup quarterback as there is in the country. I think both of them (Guiton and Miller) are very good players. When one goes down, I don’t think they lose anything,” Long said after Guiton torched his defense in route to 235 total yards and three touchdowns.
The difference between Guiton and other backups in recent memory is his ability to come in and deliver right away.
For example, in 2011, starter-turned-backup quarterback Joe Bauserman was called on to hang on to a 27-13 lead at Nebraska. All Bauserman had to do was simply manage the game, hand the ball off and complete passes when needed to hold a 14-point lead halfway through the third quarter. He led the Buckeyes to only one more first down the rest of the game as Nebraska came back to win 34-27.
Guiton, on the other hand, was called onto the scene last year at home against Purdue and saved the Buckeyes’ perfect season with a drive that will be remembered for years to come. The trust in “Kenny G” will always remain due to that performance, and if this MCL injury for Miller ends up being worse than expected, I trust Guiton to lead the offense.
Although he is not a famous jazz artist like his nickname might suggest, when he is under center, he most certainly is smooth.
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